Leon Trotsky

Prospects of Revolution

(December 1922)

Source: The Communist, December 23, 1922.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

TROTSKY’S estimation of the probable political development of Europe in the future was challenged by critics who dissented from the conclusion that the existing state of affairs would lead to a period of triumph for pacifism and reformism. In the course, of his reply, Comrade Trotsky made the following, references to the situation in Britain.

As a result of the recent elections, the domination of the Liberal-Conservative Coalition has given place to an all-Conservative Government. Yet, on the other hand, the figures of the voting in the same election tell a different story, showing that the bourgeois-reformist English politicians have already made ample preparations for a new orientation in the event of a further growth of antagonisms and difficulties (both of them quite unavoidable).

The Conservatives polled less than five and a half million votes. The Labour Party, together with the Independent Liberals obtained nearly seven million votes. Thus we see that the English electors have in their majority discarded the flesh-pot dreams of imperialist victories in favour of the meagre illusions of reformism and pacifism.

It is a significant fact that the Union of Democratic Control – a radical pacifist organisation – secured the return of the whole of its committee to Parliament.

Are there any serious grounds for assuming that the present Conservative regime in England will lead directly to the proletarian dictatorship?

We fail to see them. On the contrary, we think that the insurmountable economic colonial and international complications of the present British Empire will serve as grist to the mills of the petty-bourgeois opposition as represented by the so-called Labour Party.

Everything speaks in favour of the assumption that in England, more than in any other country in the world, the working class, before attaining the dictatorship, will have to pass through the stage of a workers’ government in the shape of the reformist-pacifist Labour Party, which in the last elections polled about four and a half million votes.

There is hardly any ground for a categorical assertion that the proletarian revolution will be victorious in Germany before the internal and external complications in France will bring about a governmental and parliamentary crimes.

Such a crisis would mean new elections, new elections would lead to a victory of the left bloc.

The latter would deal a heavy blow to the Conservative Government in England by increasing the opposition of the Labour Party, and in all probability would lead to a parliamentary crisis, to new elections and to a victory for Labour Party, either alone or in league with the Independent Liberals.

What would be the effect of such events on the international situation in Germany?

The German Social Democrats would immediately quit their attitude of semi-opposition to offer their services to the “people” for the restoration of peaceful, normal relations, etc., with the great democracies of the West.

It was in this sense that I said that the change in the internal politics of France and England, if it should take place before the victory of the Communists in Germany can only give another short lease of life to the German Social Democracy. Scheideman would again come into power, but this would only be the prelude to the revolutionary finale. For it is perfectly obvious that the impotence of the reformist-pacifist regime under the present circumstances of Europe, would not require years, but a few months or weeks to be brought to the surface.

It is utterly wrong to make any special reservations for the colonial Powers.

Before starting the military assault against the Russian Revolution, England sent its Henderson to the aid of Buchanan in his efforts to confine the Russian revolution within proper limits (during the war Russia was an English colony).

The same method was followed by the English bourgeoisie in regard to India: it sent its benevolent and liberal viceroys, who were closely followed by aerial squadrons carrying bombs.

There is no doubt that the development of the revolutionary movement in the colonies would accelerate the English Labour Party’s accession to power – in spite of the fact that it invariably betrayed the colonies to English capitalism.

Similarly there is no doubt that the further development of the revolutionary movement in the colonies along with the proletarian movement in the mother country, will drive the last nail in the historical coffin of bourgeois reformism and its mouthpiece – the Labour Party.

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Last updated on: 6.5.2007